Lewis Black ………. Oliver Porter
Wilmer Valderrama ………. Zach Van Bourke
Tyler James Williams ………. Charlie Goldfinch
Dyllan Christopher ………. Spencer Davenport
Brett Kelly ………. Timonthy “Beef” Wellington
Gina Mantegna ………. Grace Conrad
Quinn Shephard ………. Donna Malone
Paget Brewster ………. Valerie Davenport
Rob Corddry ………. Sam Davenport
Dominique Saldana ………. Katie Davenport
Mixing elements of two movies is a difficult process. It’s even more difficult when you try and take two movies that are considered “classics” of their own generation, and create an entirely new movie for a new generation. That is what the people behind Unaccompanied Minors attempt to do. They try and take elements from The Breakfast Club and mix them with elements from Home Alone. That looks good on paper, but what about in execution?
Unaccompanied Minors is about just that: Six minors are stuck in an airport on Christmas Eve after the biggest blizzard in history snows them in. One of those minors, Spencer, decides to make a run for freedom along with four others, who couldn’t be more different if they tried: spoiled rich girl Grace (Gina Mantegna), trailer-park tomboy Donna (Quinn Shephard), academic overachiever Charlie (Tyler James Williams), and comic-book geek Timothy Wellington a.k.a. “Beef” (Brett Kelly). With the airport’s peevish Passenger Relations Manager Oliver Porter (Lewis Black), his lackey assistant Zach Van Bourke (Wilmer Valderrama), and every airport security guard hot on their trails, this group of unaccompanied minors from cliques that don’t mix learn to ditch their differences and help each other flee the clutches of airport authority. Meanwhile, Spencer’s younger sister, Katherine, and the other minors have been herded to a nearby hotel to wait out the storm. Determined to reunite with his little sister and fulfill her unspoiled vision of Santa Claus arriving on Christmas morning, Spencer enlists the help of his unaccompanied minor friends. Working together as an unlikely family of their own, they outwit and outrun Oliver and his crew. Plummeting through baggage chutes, rummaging around unclaimed luggage and canoing down a snow-covered hill, they turn Christmas at the airport into holiday pandemonium and, along the way, prove that the holidays aren’t about where you are, but who you’re with.
This movie is apparently based on a true story by Susan Burton first told on the public radio show, “This American Life.” The doesn’t look too bad on paper, but once you see it in execution its full of cliches; it starts with the different personalities of the main minors and pretty much every other joke in the movie. There is nothing here that you really haven’t seen before. The only thing unique you might find is the environment that these kids are in. They aren’t “home alone” or “stuck at school”, they are stuck at an airport.
For the most part, the acting is pretty good. The kids all do a great job, especially Tyler James Williams (from TV’s Everybody Hates Chris). Lewis Black is even good at his role as the villain, and Wilmer Valdderama is decent as the lackey. But the main problem here is that they are all not given much to work with.
This movie is clearly made for a certain audience and it is something that audience will probably love, but there is no universal appeal here. This is a comedy that will only be funny to the pre-teen to early teen demographic. If you are not in that age range, you will probably only be mildly amused if at all.
Unlike The Breakfast Club and Home Alome, 15 to 20 years from now, Unaccompanied Minors will not be remembered. In fact, it will be probably be completely forgettable 5 minutes after you have watched it. The ultimate problem here is that the comedy in the movie is not funny for every age. The films it borrows from still retain a universal appeal. If you are between the ages of 8 and 16, you will probably enjoy this movie and laugh very hard. But by no means will this movie every be considered the “classic” of this generation like The Breakfast Club and Home Alone for their generations.
The video is given in both 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen color, which is enhanced for 16:9 TVs, and 1.33:1 fullscreen color. The video is pretty good and comparable to other new release DVDs. No real problems at all.
The audio included is available in English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound, or French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound. There are subtitles available in English, Spanish, and French as well. No problems real problems here either. The music and dialogue come out loud and clear.
There is an full-length commentary from Lewis Black (actor), Paul Feig (director), Jacob Meszaros (writer), and Mya Stark (writer). There is also an additional commentary with the same people for the hearing impaired, meaning that there are subtitles of what they are saying during the commentary for the movie. Overall, Lewis Black keeps the comedy coming, while the others provide the majority of the information on the movie. Not that bad of a combination really, but it might have been nice to have one commentary with all the kids in the movie.
“Charlie’s Dance Reel” Featurette
Basically, this is like gag reel or bloopers with all the kids. We get more of Charlie dancing and the kids laughing at his dancing. That’s about it really. It’s pretty short, so it doesn’t overstay its welcome.
There a handful of these scenes and most of them last under a minute if that. There is only one that is really worth watching and that’s the “original opening scene”. It’s a little funny and it’s neat to see what they would have gone with.
“Guards in the Hall” Featurette
This is a 20 minute featurette with literally three security guards in the hall with only three chairs to entertain themselves. This is mildly amusing at first, but gets old around the 5 minute mark. And this goes on for another 15 minutes! That totally kills the enjoyment factor of the featurette.
If you have kids between the ages of 8 and 16, they will probably enjoy this. So rent it for them, but this is not really that good to recommend as a purchase. There are better movies out there that accomplish pretty much the same thing.